Consequently, data center managers are reluctant to use these methods and continue to rely instead upon the continued expansion of physical storage capacity.
We have to find a way of saving the materials that are worth saving and this can be achieved through the process of publication. We all have enormous file cabinets in our offices, but the information that is published is really what gets preserved for a long time. The problem of how to deal with the growing deficit in storage capacity is beyond the scope of this workshop, but it is worth noting that citation to data has little value if the data being cited are not preserved and accessible for however long they may be needed.
This whole idea of data publication, citation, and attribution is a very current concept. However, some best practices and critical research needs are beginning to emerge. It is also getting increasing attention from the scientific community. For example, there was a whole session on these topics at the CODATA conference in October 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa. Also, another session will be devoted to these issues at the World Data Systems science symposium in Kyoto, Japan in September 2011. The International Council for Science (ICSU) envisions a global World Data System (WDS) that will:
• Emphasize the critical importance of data in global science activities,
• Further ICSU strategic scientific outcomes by addressing pressing societal needs (e.g., sustainable development, the digital divide).
• Highlight the very positive impact of universal and equitable access to data and information.
• Support services for long-term stewardship of data and information.
• Promote and support data publication and citation.
The maturity of the development of these practices is not uniform across fields and disciplines, however. In crystallography, for example, you do not get credit for your work unless you publish your data and it has to be published in certain formats. The field has procedures and protocols. This is an example of a discipline that is very well organized. It is not the same in other fields, although the technology is available.
The WDS faces certain challenges however In order to accommodate at the same time giant data facilities, such as the NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers or NOAA National Data Centers, and very small facilities such as the WDC for Earth Tides, the same model will not work equally well. Similarly, the International Global Navigation Satellite System, which involves an enormous projected data flow, will function according to a certain model, but the very small international data services, such as those for the glaciological or the solar physics communities for example, will function in a very different way.
Not all WDS members are capable of providing all the necessary infrastructure components identified here. Consequently, the WDS Scientific Committee realized that one type of membership was inadequate. It created four separate types of memberships, described in some detail on the WDS website. So far, only “regular” members have the mandate to provide a “secure repository” function. However, the definition of WDS member roles is still a work in progress.